Let's Take a Bath!

Thursday, March 22, 2018
This post is sponsored by Ivory Soap. All opinions expressed are mine alone. 

You know how certain smells can take you back to a specific memory in an instant? How one moment you're going about your day, and the next you are taken back to a time filled with clear happy memories... There are a lot of smells that do that for me, but one very distinct one is the classic smell of an Ivory Soap bar.  It always reminds me of my grandma's house and the bathrooms that we would shower in. There was one upstairs and one in the basement and there was always Ivory Soap waiting for us. When I smell Ivory, I'm taken back to the moments I spent with family in Maryland and all the happy memories we created. From hiking in the creek to eating a crab feast on the deck, and Christmas cousin shopping to making music videos with choreographed dance moves, those are some of my fondest memories. I love that one smell of an Ivory Soap bar brings me back to such happy moments in time.

Ivory may have a new look, but it is the same pure soap that I have known and loved since I was a little girl. I can remember so many times as little kids, we would be knee deep in the creek wandering through and making up stories about whatever we found. We would get out and head back to the house only to be covered in water and mud.
Nothing felt better after a long day of fun than washing off with Ivory's Soap that has been trusted for generations to provide a gentle clean.

Now that I'm a mom, I'm the one cleaning up dirt, mud, and sweaty little skin and I love using Ivory products because they are made pure to give parents peace of mind. My little Oaks loves to play, just like I did. She loves to play make believe and I often see myself in her. She runs through the yard with her wild hair trailing behind and walks through rain puddles without a care in the world. I want her to always keep that imagination and feel like playing outside is better than sitting and watching TV, but thinking about the cleanup is always the hardest part for me in letting go and letting her have fun. I'm so thankful that Ivory provides a pure, gentle clean for my entire family so I can focus less on worrying about cleaning up the mess and more about enjoying the mess as it's being created. Ivory aims to simplify life so you can spend more time on the things that matter most, like digging in the dirt and jumping on a wet trampoline! Ivory has been a proven and trusted brand for over 130 years and will continue to be loved by parents everywhere!

I grew up using the bars of Ivory soap at my grandma's house and still to this day love them, but I'm also so excited that they have Ivory Clean Body Wash that has a new gentle formula that is free of dyes and heavy perfumes. Not only is it perfect for me and my allergies, but it is perfect for my girls with sensitive skin. I love reminiscing and thinking back to some of my favorite memories as a kid in Maryland surrounded by family. It makes me think of my girls and the memories they're currently creating with their cousins and grandparents. I'm so happy that I can choose to live in the moment and let my kids be kids because I have Ivory to trust to take care of the cleanup.
What are some of your favorite memories as a kid that are brought back through familiar scents??
All my love,
Aleigh Joy

A Special First Easter Basket For Baby

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I'm obsessed with holidays. And that's an understatement haha. I love celebrating holidays to the max and making them special for my family. It's so fun to start traditions early so your family has something to look forward to throughout the year. With Easter quickly approaching, I have my mind racing with ideas to make the day special and fun for my kiddos! This will be Oaklyn's third Easter, so by this point she kind of knows what to expect... But, it's Cambria's first Easter and I can't wait to give her her little baby basket! Oaklyn will get toddler appropriate toys and a few candies, but Cambria's basket is totally baby friendly thanks to GERBER® Puffs, Lil’ Crunchies, and Yogurt Melts!

Cambria is already such a great eater. She has nursed like a champ right from the start, but I followed her cues recently and let her try out some food. She already has the hang of chewing and got the hang of puffs really easily! They are easy to break down and are the perfect size for tiny mouths. I also love introducing puffs early on because snacking smart with Gerber encourages healthy eating patterns from a young age while the taste and variety keep babies happy! Did you know that little ones from the ages of 8-24 months get 25-30 percent of their daily calories just from snacks?? I love offering Cambria snacks throughout the day as an activity. We found a huge variety of Gerber snacks in their pretty blue packaging at our local Walmart. Before heading out to grab some for your baby, check out this coupon

Gerber has several different snacks for babies and we recently tried the Yogurt melts which were a HUGE hit! Even at three years old, Oaklyn is obsessed with them! I have to admit that I even like to sneak a few here and there, they really are yummy! Gerber snacks make a nutritious alternative to chocolate and candy for your Easter and holiday baskets which means they are perfect to stuff into eggs! When Oaklyn was only 14 months old, we did an Easter egg hunt with some friends. One of the moms was brilliant and stuffed some eggs for the babies with tiny little snacks. I'm definitely going to be sticking yogurt melts and puffs in eggs for Cammy! 

To add in a little savory taste, we added Lil' Crunchies and I have a feeling they are also going to be a big hit! 1/3 of 8-24 month olds are not eating whole grains on a given day, but it is easy to meet that with Gerber snacks! I'm sure your baby will love them! So, if you have a little one this year that might not be quite old enough to fully understand the holiday, you can at least have fun with making a baby approved Easter basket. Skip the toys that your baby doesn't even know how to play with yet and just go with the snacks you know he or she will eat! Gerber offers nutritious snacks with good for you ingredients like whole grains, real fruit and yogurt, with no added bad stuff (no artificial flavors/no synthetic colors). Not only will your baby enjoy the basket, but you will have peace of mind giving them snacks to encourage healthy eating patterns! 

Whether this is your first baby or your last, make this Easter a blast with Gerber snacks!

All my love,
Aleigh Joy

You + Me and What We've Learned As a Family

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hunter and I went to run a quick errand yesterday, just the two of us.
As we got out of the car and started walking towards the store, I kept feeling like I was missing something or had forgotten something.
As I thought about it more, I realized it was because we didn't have kids in tow.
We were able to just get out of the car and walk straight towards the store.
No meltdown from Oaklyn about not wanting to sit in the cart, no trying to decide if we should use the cart or the stroller for both girls, no diaper bag, no snacks to keep them occupied... we literally just got out of the car and ran our errand.
We talked about how funny it is that everything becomes more difficult when you have kids.
The simplest things in life become the most challenging and suddenly everyday things require a whole lot more planning and thinking. 

Hunter jokingly said, "can you imagine how easy life would be if it was just me and you?" 
We both chuckled and continued on, but I thought about it some more.
Holy cow, it really would be WAY easier!
I would be able to work full time and therefore, saving for a house would be way easier.
We would get to eat dinner in silence and maybe even enjoy our meal, ha!
We would be able to go on date nights, any night.
We'd be able to sleep through the night, take more vacations, spend more time together, invest more time in hobbies, and probably have a little more sanity if we're being totally honest... 
There's a lot of life changes that come with a bundle of joy.
There's a lot of time and energy spent on taking care of them when you would much rather take care of yourself. 
There's a whole lot more hard moments and ten times more whining and crying.
Truthfully, life would be a lot easier without kids.
But, that doesn't mean it would be better...

Life as just me and you, was delightful.
It was carefree and fun, it was spontaneous and exciting, and it was a time that will forever be a happy memory to me.
But, we have added two little people to our family and have dreams to add more. 
They have brought challenges, that's for sure, but they have also brought more joy than we ever would have experienced had we not chosen to have them.
Children are supposed be challenging.
They're supposed to make you grow and think outside of yourself.
They are supposed to teach us what we need to learn to become better and stronger.
Caring for someone else who completely depends on you, is the absolute best way to learn the attributes of our Savior.
Hunter and I have probably lost a few brain cells since we have become parents, haha, but we have gained experiences and perspectives that no university or job will ever teach.
So to any newlyweds or expecting parents... one day you'll have a child or two or a few that change most everything. 
So cherish the time you have now and keep those memories of just the two of you engrained forever, but never lose sight of the importance of being parents.
The day to day life gets "harder" but trust me, it actually is better.

All my love,
Aleigh Joy

*Loving this dress from Pink Blush! I think the choker neckline is so cute and fun because I don't even have to accessorize! Check out Pink Blush for any and all cute maternity clothes or trendy women's clothes!


Oaklyn's Third Birthday Party

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
After throwing Oaklyn's first birthday party, I realized how much I love party planning!
It's so fun to come up with ways to make your vision come to life. 
I love the planning, the crafting, the installing, the party itself, and oddly enough I even love taking it all down!
There's just something so fun about completely transforming a space.
I had planned on throwing Oaks a second birthday party but there were so many contributing factors that made it just not happen. 
We were living with Hunter's grandma at the time so we didn't have a place to do it, I was pregnant with Cam and feeling sick most of the time, Hunter's job caused him to work weird and unexpected hours so planning anything wasn't possible... it just seemed like way too much work for a little party.
I also really liked the theme I was going for and didn't want to waste it on a little party I just threw together, ha!
So, I started collecting decorations over time and decided we would just do a super fun third birthday party!
I was so excited when we found out we were moving back home because my parents have the perfect yard for throwing parties.
There is tons of space and it's super open. It made planning the party really fun!
I was pretty shocked at how many people sent messages wondering where I got a lot of the decor and how I put it all together so I figured I would just try to knock that all out in this post! 
If I forget anything, don't hesitate to ask :)

Okay, so a few people asked what my steps are to throwing parties and staying organized. I'll be honest in saying I could definitely work on being more organized, but so far this is what helps me to get it all done and stay on top of what needs to be done. It's also just how my brain works ;)

First, I always sit down and write out the different categories that need to be taken care of for each party. These categories will vary based on party. Sometimes I like a photo booth, I always do invites but sometimes they are evites and other times they are hard copies, sometimes there needs to be a food and a dessert table, other times just a drink and snack table, sometimes there will be an activity station, most of the time there's tables and chairs which requires centerpieces... every party is different. So, sit down and write out the categories giving yourself some space under each one. Once you have all your categories written out, start writing what you need to prepare or buy for each. For example, I had an ice cream station at Oaklyn's party so it looked like this:
Ice cream parlor:
-6 ft table
-wood awning and fabric
-tassle banner
-ice cream cone cutouts
-custom sign
-ice cream

There was a little more that went into it but that gives you a general idea. Next to each of the things I need I write down where I can find them. So I'll write a store or the person I'm borrowing it from. That helps me make a list of all the stores I need to go to and what I need to get from each store. 

Next up I try to map out what the party space will look like since I'm a very visual person. This helps me get a clear idea of what will work in each space and helps me delegate what each person setting up needs to do. It gives them an idea of what the space needs to look like without having to ask me a trillion questions. So I'll create a hand drawn map on paper and draw what each station, table, etc looks like. 

Once all of that is said and done... I shop, craft, do mock ups of each station and separate decor by boxes. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun work!

Okay, now on to Oaklyn's party and all the decor for it!

Let's start with the Entrance!
I wanted to make it obvious to people that I wanted them to go through the gate. I found the "party" balloon from Party City and they had the little bunting banner too. You can attach the banner to any letter balloons. I thought it was pretty cool! I got lucky and found that giant balloon with the tassle attached from the Target dollar section. I got it inflated the day before the party and it stayed very well inflated. The chalkboard is from my sister in law but I saw some cute ones at Hobby Lobby! When people walked in I had balloons on balloon sticks lining the walkway. I loved the fun touch it added and how it was very simple to do but added so much! The pastel balloons are from Party City and the balloon sticks are from Hobby Lobby.

The first thing all the kids saw when they walked in was the big castle bounce house! The kids seriously went crazy over this thing! And, I'd be lying if I said just the kids loved it... the adults had a blast on it too! Honestly, this bounce house may have been the best part of the party. I toyed with the idea of face painting or just a craft station but Oaklyn is obsessed with trampolines so I couldn't shake the idea of a bounce house. I looked on Yelp to find trustworthy companies and Beach City Jumpers had raving reviews. Literally every single person had a good experience so I knew I didn't need to look any further! Kyle, the owner, was incredibly easy to work with and made the experience a breeze. He took care of the delivery, the install, and the take down completely by himself. He did it quickly and easily and it was awesome knowing I didn't have to worry about that element at all. He was really easy to get in touch with and always had a prompt response. He seriously gets 6 out 5 stars for customer service! He brought the princess castle combo and it was adorable. I honestly don't know if I've seen Oaklyn so excited before haha! The jumper was super clean and in great shape. The kids and adults loved bouncing around and the slide was SO much fun! People were on it the entire time laughing and having a blast. It's important to make sure your guests have something to do at parties and I highly recommend a bounce house from Beach City Jumpers! You'll be impressed with his customer service and your party guests will have a blast! 

Another part of the party that was favored by the guests was the food! I did Oaklyn's party right during lunch time so I figured lunch should be served. I wanted something that was loved by all ages and Chick-Fil-A was perfect! I have loved Chick-Fil-A for as long as I can remember. There is a clear difference in taste between Chick-Fil-A and other fast food restaurants. Whenever I eat there, I leave feeling satisfied instead of uncomfortable. I also can taste and see the difference in their white meat, fresh made fries, salad options, and of course the exceptional service! I remember craving Chick-Fil-A constantly growing up. The combination of the crispy chicken and the classic Chick-Fil-A sauce never got old to me. It has been one of my biggest cravings with both pregnancies and I have now passed along my love for Chick-Fil-A to Oaklyn ;) My local Chick-Fil-A here in San Diego is located in San Marcos and let me tell you, they are hands down the best. I may be a bit biased but I'm pretty darn sure I'm right! I went to high school here and noticed how they served the community SO much. It was amazing how they were at so many local events, charities, and fundraisers. They were so involved with the high schools and created tons of fun events and traditions with us. There was nothing better than seeing tons of original sandwiches after a pep-rally! They donated funds to the schools and always made sure they had a safe place for the kids to hangout. Now as a mom, I love it just as much! They have cute little events for families and their staff is as friendly as ever. So when I say they are the best, I seriously mean it! Okay back to the party... We had an array of the yummiest things on the menu for guests to choose from. Seriously you guys, every single thing was SO good and I tried new things that I didn't even know were on the menu! There were Grilled Chicken Cool Wraps, A large Fruit Salad, 2 large mixed salads, Superfood Side, Original Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches, A tray of nuggets, their amazing lemonade, sweet tea, and allllll of the amazing sauces and salad dressings! If you've never tried a Cool Wrap with the Avocado Lime Ranch and a superfood side, you are seriously missing out! It was all so good and there was something for everyone to love! Their catering is so easy, convenient, and quick and I promise all of your guests will be thrilled! It was also so much fun to have their baby cow make an appearance and wish Oaklyn a happy birthday! Oaks had the biggest smile on her face and all the kids thought it was so fun! As far as the decor goes for the food table, I found the pinwheels in the dollar section at Target last year! I was so excited! They are also super easy to make though. There are several tutorials on Pinterest! I made the banner with my Cricut and the pastel paper is from Hobby Lobby. If you don't have a Cricut, I highly suggest getting one! This banner was so easy to make and was exactly what I wanted! The plates an napkins are from Walmart, the chalkboard was also found in the Target dollar section, and there were a few mason jars with baby's breath in them! The miscellaneous baskets and bowls are just from inside my mom's house ;)

Next up, let's head to the cake table! The gold foil balloons spell out "Oaklyn Turns Three" but the H got punctured by Hunter and didn't fully survive haha! The balloons are from Northstar balloons and can actually be found at several craft and party stores! I'm obsessed with gold foil balloons. They just require air instead of helium, they are easily hung because they weigh nothing, you can spell out anything, they are big so they take up a good amount of space, and they are just fun! The sprinkle plastic tablecloth is from Target in their party section and it was pretty cheap too! The cake stands are a combination of friend's and family's so I have no idea where they are actually from. The cupcakes were funfetti flavored with a maple buttercream and were a huge hit! I made both those and the cake two days in advance. I frosted the cake the day before and the cupcakes like 5 minutes before haha. The cake topper was found in the Target dollar section last year. I'm telling you, their dollar section was awesome last year! It could also be easily made with a Cricut!

I'm titling this picture "it takes a village hahaha"

Moving right along to the ice cream parlor! When I first thought of this theme, I envisioned a cute little awning that looked like a little ice cream shoppe. I had a cheap little idea on how to make it work and my dad vetoed it and told me he was going to make the awning structure. Keep in mind, this was only one week before the party! I honestly have no idea how he built it, but he did such a good job and I was just so happy with it! My mom painted the wood white and my sister in law already had the striped fabric cut into a scalloped awning. It was a little short up top so last minute we attached some white fabric and it was a little worrisome there for a minute... but it all came together beautifully and i just loved it! I used my cricut to cut out the ice cream cone shapes on card stock and we stuck those along the awning structure. I found the tassle garland in the Target dollar section. (seriously guys, never underestimate the dollar section!) I made the sign in photoshop then printed it at Costco as a 20x30. I then used mod podge to stick it to a foam poster board but didn't smooth it out so it has some bubbles but in the long run, that doesn't matter... right? Or so my husband tells me ;) The tiered stand was borrowed from my sister in law and we displayed waffle cones, sugar cones, and the ice cream bowls also found in the dollar spot! I stuck the ice cream in a large tin drink holder (also borrowed) with a ton of ice so it stayed cold during the party. We also had toppings and just let guests create their own ice cream sundaes!

Next up, let's talk about the centerpieces! When serving a meal, you absolutely need somewhere for people to comfortably sit and eat. I used rectangle tables because we knew enough people that had some that we didn't have to rent any. My mom had white tablecloths already as well! I rented the white chairs from a local party supply company and got a few extra just to set up around the party area. In the middle of each table I placed fabric squares in pastel colors. Then we added a regular sized mason jar with a waffle cone in the middle and baby's breath inside of it to go along with the ice cream theme. The surrounding jars were just half filled with sprinkles. It was a super easy and simple centerpiece but was also super cute!

I think that covers it! For this party I chose not to do a photobooth and honestly kind of forgot about a gift table, haha! But, I think it all came together well! There was minimal stressing involved this time around (Oaklyn's first birthday required way too much set up so that was stressful!) and was overall just fun! Let me know if you have any other questions! :)

All my love,
Aleigh Joy